19.3 miles, 51,741 steps, 314 stories climbed
1130.1 miles, 2,912,263 steps, 27,139 stories climbed
The mileage today wasn’t quite what I wanted but I had little choice today. It was either stop where I did or have my third consecutive longest day on the trail doing about 34 and I didn’t want to have 3 consecutive 30+ days so I figured I’d stop here get a little rest and then do a longer day tomorrow.
I had a later start than normal, the Ironmasters Mansion, where I slept last night, had breakfast included with the stay but it didn’t start until 7 so I didn’t get out until after 7:30. Because I just can’t turn down free food!
The hike started out pretty flat and easy. Gravel trails along a stream where people were busy fishing or walking dogs, along with a couple of early morning joggers.
I took my time today, trying to give my legs a nice rest and a little over 8 miles in there was a store a bit off trail where I was able to grab a bite to eat. I had a meatball sub and looked in horror at the quarts of Hershey’s Ice Cream, the brand I had last night as part of the challenge. I wouldn’t recommend this ice cream ever. I was thinking about this and Bee made the same comment yesterday but when Ben and Jerry’s ice cream melts it basically turns into sweet milk but this stuff turned into some weird disgusting foam that made both Bee and me want to puke while trying to shovel the stuff down. See? Thru-hikers do turn some food down.
Anyway, after lunch I hit the trail again and ran into PaBert. PaBert struck me as kind of odd the first time I met him, here’s this 69 year old man hanging out with the Slug Club, a group of kids aged 17-25 but most around 19, none of whom he knew before this hike. As I spoke to him today it all made sense and he seems awesome, quite frankly.
PaBert completed the AT in 2006 and 2012 and is back for a third go. He retired 14 years ago and hasn’t looked back but has stayed very active hiking, cycling, playing racquetball and golfing (which he made sure to emphasize he walks from hole to hole carrying his clubs instead of driving or using a caddy). His wife has been super supportive but continues to work as the dean of the School of Education at a university in South Carolina.
I asked him about hiking with the slugs and he said he always comes out alone and finds a group to hike with because he really likes the social aspect of the trail. The slugs are hiking the same mileage as he is and he loves both their energy and their upbeat nature. He says no matter what the day brings they are always happy and positive and smiling so he keeps hiking with them. Sounds good to me.
As we hiked and talked we got to this odd point in the trail that the guidebook refers to as rock maze. An odd stretch where the trail maintainer decided to make the hikers zigzag pointlessly through these large boulders that I would imagine is pretty dangerous on a wet day.
PaBert had to stop for water and I continued on and soon came to the original halfway point of the trail, soon after almost stepping on another damn snake. After that it was a brief walk through some corn fields before getting to town.
In town a number of people asked me questions about the trail and I also had to wait a bit for a wedding procession to pass by before I was able to hike on.
I had little choice but to stay at another hostel, been at them too often lately, but this one had a bar so it wasn’t too bad. I met a flip flopper who just started in Harpers Ferry last week named Rope. He and I hung out at the bar answering the usual hiker questions.
“When did you start?”
“How’d you earn your trail name?”
“What made you come out here?”
“What did you do before you came out here?”
He, of course had a number of questions about the trail and asked for any tips I could give him. We drank and ate from the buffet, he only went up twice!!! Definitely hasn’t developed the appetite yet!!! Just you wait my friend.
He said he came out because he didn’t like who he was becoming. He was working 60-70 hours a week and kept increasing the hours to make more money but he wasn’t happy and had no life. As he was telling me this, I overheard a woman to my right talking about life and how one of her life goals was to make six figures a year by the time she was 30 and I had to stop myself from laughing. It just seems silly to me but to each their own. I can tell her that from people I know and empirical research, this will not make you happy. But then again, I don’t know her or what she’s been through.
After dinner Rope and I said goodbye, I’m not sure if I’ll see him again since he doesn’t have his trail legs yet and he’s in no rush to push the mileage, but who knows. I wish him the best.